(a) In accordance with Section 1415(b)(2)(B) of Title 20 of the United States Code, a local educational agency shall make reasonable efforts to ensure the appointment of a surrogate parent not more than 30 days after there is a determination by the local educational agency that a child needs a surrogate parent. A local educational agency shall appoint a surrogate parent for a child in accordance with Section 300.519 of Title 34 of the Code of Federal Regulations under one or more of the following circumstances:
(1) (A) The child is adjudicated a dependent or ward of the court pursuant to Section 300, 601, or 602 of the Welfare and Institutions Code upon referral of the child to the local educational agency for special education and related services, or if the child already has a valid individualized education program, (B) the court specifically has limited the right of the parent or guardian to make educational decisions for the child, and (C) the child has no responsible adult to represent him or her pursuant to Section 361 or 726 of the Welfare and Institutions Code or Section 56055 of the Education Code.
(2) No parent for the child can be identified.
(3) The local educational agency, after reasonable efforts, cannot discover the location of a parent.
(b) When appointing a surrogate parent, the local educational agency, as a first preference, shall select a relative caretaker, foster parent, or court-appointed special advocate, if any of these individuals exists and is willing and able to serve. If none of these individuals is willing or able to act as a surrogate parent, the local educational agency shall select the surrogate parent of its choice. If the child is moved from the home of the relative caretaker or foster parent who has been appointed as a surrogate parent, the local educational agency shall appoint another surrogate parent if a new appointment is necessary to ensure adequate representation of the child.
(c) For purposes of this section, the surrogate parent shall serve as the child's parent and shall have the rights relative to the child's education that a parent has under Title 20 (commencing with Section 1400) of the United States Code and pursuant to Part 300 of Title 34 (commencing with Section 300.1) of the Code of Federal Regulations. The surrogate parent may represent the child in matters relating to special education and related services, including the identification, assessment, instructional planning and development, educational placement, reviewing and revising the individualized education program, and in all other matters relating to the provision of a free appropriate public education of the child. Notwithstanding any other provision of law, this representation shall include the provision of written consent to the individualized education program including nonemergency medical services, mental health treatment services, and occupational or physical therapy services pursuant to this chapter.
(d) The surrogate parent is required to meet with the child at least one time. He or she may also meet with the child on additional occasions, attend the child's individualized education program team meetings, review the child's educational records, consult with persons involved in the child's education, and sign any consent relating to individualized education program purposes.
(e) As far as practical, a surrogate parent should be culturally sensitive to his or her assigned child.
(f) The surrogate parent shall comply with federal and state law pertaining to the confidentiality of student records and information and shall use discretion in the necessary sharing of the information with appropriate persons for the purpose of furthering the interests of the child.
(g) The surrogate parent may resign from his or her appointment only after he or she gives notice to the local educational agency.
(h) The local educational agency shall terminate the appointment of a surrogate parent if (1) the person is not properly performing the duties of a surrogate parent or (2) the person has an interest that conflicts with the interests of the child entrusted to his or her care.
(i) Individuals who would have a conflict of interest in representing the child, as specified in Section 300.519(d) of Title 34 of the Code of Federal Regulations, shall not be appointed as a surrogate parent. "An individual who would have a conflict of interest," for purposes of this section, means a person having any interests that might restrict or bias his or her ability to advocate for all of the services required to ensure that the child has a free appropriate public education.
(j) Except for individuals who have a conflict of interest in representing the child, and notwithstanding any other law or regulation, individuals who may serve as surrogate parents include, but are not limited to, foster care providers, retired teachers, social workers, and probation officers who are not employees of the State Department of Education, the local educational agency, or any other agency that is involved in the education or care of the child.
(1) A public agency authorized to appoint a surrogate parent under this section may select a person who is an employee of a nonpublic agency that only provides noneducational care for the child and who meets the other standards of this section.
(2) A person who otherwise qualifies to be a surrogate parent under this section is not an employee of the local educational agency solely because he or she is paid by the local educational agency to serve as a surrogate parent.
(k) The surrogate parent may represent the child until (1) the child is no longer in need of special education, (2) the minor reaches 18 years of age, unless the child chooses not to make educational decisions for himself or herself, or is deemed by a court to be incompetent, (3) another responsible adult is appointed to make educational decisions for the minor, or (4) the right of the parent or guardian to make educational decisions for the minor is fully restored.
(l) The surrogate parent and the local educational agency appointing the surrogate parent shall be held harmless by the State of California when acting in their official capacity except for acts or omissions that are found to have been wanton, reckless, or malicious.
(m) The State Department of Education shall develop a model surrogate parent training module and manual that shall be made available to local educational agencies.
(n) Nothing in this section may be interpreted to prevent a parent or guardian of an individual with exceptional needs from designating another adult individual to represent the interests of the child for educational and related services.
(o) If funding for implementation of this section is provided, it may only be provided from Item 6110-161-0890 of Section 2.00 of the annual Budget Act.
(Amended by Stats. 2007, Ch. 56, Sec. 99.)